Undoubtedly, there is much frustration out there about Congress. Approval ratings are at an all-time low, and many lawmakers seem more intent upon posturing and politicking than actually governing.
Yet, while Congress can be viewed as a single entity, it really is a collection of individuals representing disparate groups who have disparate needs and interests — and those interests must remain at the forefront when considering the work of a particular representative. Few districts, for example, are as geographically diverse as Washington’s 3rd Congressional, which stretches from the Pacific Ocean across Southwest Washington all the way to the eastern edge of Klickitat County. With this diversity in mind, The Columbian Editorial Board recommends a vote for either Republican Jaime Herrera Beutler or Democrat Jim Moeller in the Aug. 2 primary election.
As always, this is merely a recommendation. The Columbian trusts that voters will be engaged in the process and examine the candidates and the issues before casting a ballot.
Herrera Beutler is a three-term incumbent who has steadily grown into the job since initially being elected in 2010. Her thoughtful approach to representation is demonstrated by the fact that some critics say she is too conservative and blindly follows the Republican Party line, while others complain that she does not adhere strictly enough to prevailing GOP doctrine.
We believe this is a strength. Herrera Beutler is, indeed, a Republican, but according to GovTrack.us ranks toward the low end of Republicans in terms of conservative ideology based upon her votes on the House of Representatives floor. In an age when Congress has been brought to a standstill by intransigence on both sides of the aisle, she has demonstrated a willingness to buck party dogma in favor of what she feels best serves her constituents. Her sponsorship of bills has focused primarily in the areas of health or public lands and natural resources, and she favors free-market solutions to creating job growth.
Moeller is a longtime state legislator who this year has opted to run for Congress. During his time in Olympia, he has demonstrated strong progressive ideals and challenges Herrera Beutler by saying, “Right now, we have a Congress that is setting records for doing nothing.” He favors a single-payer health care system and says, “Obamacare is a good start.” He also favors a national $15 minimum wage and an increase to the federal tax rate.
Moeller’s understanding of the issues, along with his experience and success in the Legislature, provides a strong indication of how he would perform in Congress. But fellow Democrat David McDevitt also deserves consideration in the primary. McDevitt shares most of Moeller’s progressive beliefs and demonstrates an insightful understanding of the issues, but he is unable to match Moeller’s proven political leadership.
Independent Lucia Worthington and Democrats Kathleen Arthur and Angie Marx also are on the ballot, but to this point have not demonstrated the depth of knowledge that is evident among the other three candidates.
Ideally, Herrera Beutler will face a strong challenge during this election. While it is human nature for voters to give a nod to the name recognition of their local incumbent, Congress will begin to work only if members are beholden to their constituents and are tested in the marketplace of ideas. The Columbian believes that a race between Herrera Beutler and Moeller would best serve voters.